Jake Ellingson leads the Brainerd Warriors’ boys hockey team in scoring, but he’s far from being a one-dimensional player.
Ellingson plays on the penalty kill unit and tries to backcheck, block shots and take the body every shift. His all-around skills have helped Brainerd to an 11-4-0 start.
“I take a lot of pride in being a defensive player because if you can take care of the ‘D,’ all you need is one goal to win,” Ellingson said. “Shut them down offensively, get them frustrated and you will find your opportunities.”
Warriors coach Jim Archibald said Ellingson “looks after both ends of the ice, offensively and defensively.”
“He’s been one of our most consistent players,” Archibald added. “He does a lot of little things that lead to the success of the team. He’s always willing to go out and pay the price, whether it’s blocking shots, whatever it takes, he’s willing to do that.”
Ellingson’s willingness to block shots led to scoring the game-winning goal against Bismarck High in a 4-3 overtime victory at the Grand Forks, N.D., tournament Dec. 30. Linemate Logan Rivard assisted on Ellingson’s game-winner 3:43 into overtime.
“We were running around the zone, and they got the puck out to the top,” Ellingson said. “I went out to block a shot. I took one on top of the knee where there’s no shin pad. I came off the ice and coach asked me if I could go. I said I would shake it off and go out there.
“I got a nice pass from Rivard from behind the net and put it home.”
Ellingson recorded a hat trick in a stunning 8-5 win over defending section champion Moorhead Jan. 10.
“It takes a pass to make a goal,” he said. “I have to thank the other guys on my line (Rivard and Cole Smith). We were just moving the puck around, working on the power play.
“I took back door passes for two (goals) and I got a nice pass from Rivard in a 2-on-1 to make it three.”
The victory was Brainerd’s first against the Spuds in 21 games. It was only the fifth win in 44 games against Moorhead in program history.
“It was really big,” Ellingson said of the win. “It was especially big beating them in their own (rink).
“We were not expecting it to be a shootout. They got some penalties, and we scored on almost every penalty they had. We took advantage of our opportunities when they came, and (goalie) Kyle (Helmberger) played a really good game. He took away their momentum when they were getting some momentum.”
Ellingson’s 14 goals and 9 assists (23 total points) lead the Warriors. He credits Rivard and Cole Smith for the success he has enjoyed.
“Cole and Logan both have really good hands,” said Ellingson, who attended Minnesota Hockey Camps in Nisswa in the offseason and played in the fall Northern Plains Hockey League. “Cole’s a strong kid who plays the body, and gets in the corners. He can do it all. Rivard is a good center. He has good vision. We click well together, all three of us.”
Archibald said Ellingson clicks because he’s willing to take a hit.
“He likes to go in high-traffic areas, which are in front of the net,” Archibald said. “He’s willing to battle and take the punishment in order to score. A lot of the goals he’s scored this year have been what we call ‘greasy goals’ that come from sheer determination and will.”
Other notable efforts:
■ Jack Sauer, boys basketball, scored 18 points against Little Falls and 19 against Pequot Lakes.
■ Chris Pohlkamp, boys hockey, collected four assists against Moorhead.
■ Josh McKeag and Justin Kuglin, swimming, each won two events and were on two winning relays against Apollo. McKeag duplicated the feat against Rocori while Kuglin won two events and was on a winning relay.
■ Savannah Stone, Alpine skiing, won the girls race at the St. Cloud/Annandale Invite.
MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.w